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|The Dragon's Song|
So now that you're up to speed, let's get on with the present. A day has already passed. Yes, by the time I was finished telling that story, it was night time already. Anyhow, we had just woken up and as we rode our animals through a particularly green neck of the woods, I asked, "I don't suppose either one of you knows where we're going?"
"We are looking for a man who lives in these woods," Mongke explained. "His name is Zong and he is one of the Kang Ho leaders."
"How are we going to find him out here?" asked Hoku. "There's nothing out here, but trees."
"Exactly," Mongke replied. "He's a nature lover. He lives among the flora and fauna out here."
"So, you think we'll just run into him?" I asked.
"Do you have any better ideas?" Mongke asked, crossly.
Rather than respond, I sat silently on top of my ostrich horse.
"I didn't think so," said Mongke.
So the three of us continued to ride for a while until I had an idea. "I've got it," I said. "He's an animal lover, right?"
"Yes," Mongke said.
I drew a knife and darted one up into a tree, wounding a squirrel toad and causing it to plummet into my hands. I laid it down on the ground, pulled the knife out, and hid behind a tree. "Come on," I said to the others, motioning for them to follow me. They dismounted their animals and hid with me.
"And just what do you think this will achieve?" Mongke inquired.
"Do you hear that thing's cries? If he is an animal lover, he will surely come and save it," I elaborated.
"Not bad," Hoku said.
As the animal whined and shrieked, we waited for someone to approach. Then he came, a man with a beard so large, he looked as if he hadn't shaved in over a year and had been wearing the same clothes every day since he started living in the woods.
"My goodness," he said. "How have you been hurt, little one?" He then viewed the wound. "Why, it looks like some brute has stabbed you for sport! Oh, the nerve of these hunters! We will be rid of them once all of the Kang Ho members secede. Yes, we will. Yes, we will, my little squirrel toad."
"Actually, I'm afraid you won't be," Mongke declared.
Zong looked around until he saw the three of us emerge from behind the tree. "So, the government has sent assassins, have they?"
"You may as well not even struggle," Mongke said. "You are going to talk one way or another."
"What information do you think I have?" Zong asked.
"Don't play dumb!" I said. "Who is running the show? Who is in charge of the Kang Ho's operations?"
"Why should I know? I am a follower not a leader."
"You're a liar," Hoku said. "You really shouldn't lie to us. We know you're one of the leaders."
"I swear I'm not lying!" Zong protested.
"If you don't give us an answer, I am going to burn down this entire, damn forest!" Mongke threatened.
"No! Please! Don't burn down this beautiful forest!" Zong begged.
"Then tell us what we want to know. Where can we find the Kang Ho leader?" I demanded.
"There is a village just outside these woods. The leaders are having the meeting there in secret. That's all I know, I swear!"
"Thank you for the information," Mongke said. The three of us got back on top of our animals and rode off, leaving the miserable forest dweller behind.
"So, we're just going to let him live?" Hoku asked.
"Of course not," Mongke chuckled. He unleashed a roar of flames back in Zong's direction, burning the forest down.
Zong shrieked in horror as the woods were swallowed by the starving flames and everything in sight was reduced to ashes.
Meanwhile, we sped out of the smoking forest, waiting for a village to come into view, when Mongke spoke. "You see that? Never let the weak think they can win. You must always remind them that they are weak therefore they always lose."
"Yes, I believe I've had to teach you that lesson twice," I joked. Mongke's demeanor changed from bold to embarrassed, prompting Hoku and I to grin.
"Look, there's the village," Hoku announced. And indeed there was a village dead ahead of us.
"Where are we?" I asked.
"We are now in the Fire Nation village of Hira'a," Mongke replied. "This is a nice location for a meeting such as this. It is totally secluded from the rest of the Fire Nation."
"Great, now let's get on with it already," I said.
"Wait, aren't we a few days early?" Hoku asked. "Maybe we should camp out here for the rest of the day and then head down to the village once people start arriving."
"You don't understand," Mongke said. "It takes a very long time to get to and from Hira'a from anywhere else. Everyone who is coming would have to show up today."
"Then let's just move down there and get on with it," I said once more.
"That sounds like a good plan," Mongke concurred.
"Alright, if it'll get us out of here quicker," Hoku said.
The three of us moved down the hill into the village. We hid behind the first house we saw and then the question was raised, "How are we going to find out which house they're in?" Hoku asked.
"We could stop this ridiculous sneaking around and burn all of the homes in sight," Mongke suggested.
"Not necessary," I argued. "We just split up and when one of us finds them, the other two will follow the sound of the commotion." "Alright, fine," Mongke agreed.
So the three of us split up, searching every house in the town. I peered through window after window, trying to see who was inside. I wasn't having much luck and the sound of the play being performed in the distance was really starting to vex me. I nearly had a knife drawn by the time I finally heard something happen. It was in a house about a hundred meters away. I soared across the roofs of the village houses, hoping to get there quickly. I hopped across a few more roofs and was finally there. I leaped down from the rooftop and ran into the house where Hoku and Mongke were already standing. I was puzzled to see only about twenty people in the room and none of them looked like leaders. "Who the hell are these people?"
"We already got them to talk," Hoku explained. "They're members of the Kang Ho, alright, but they're just followers who live here."
"Then where are the others?" I asked.
"That's where it gets interesting," Mongke said. "They say they are on their way to the peace summit right now."
My eyes widened and my teeth clenched. "And where might that be?" I asked, ready to slit someone's throat if they gave me the wrong answer.
"It's in Xinzhi," Hoku replied.
"And how far away is that?"
"It's a three day journey from here," Mongke said.
I shot my knife at one of the followers, sending it right into his nose. "That damn, wretched hermit lied to us!" I shouted.
"It seems he got his revenge," Hoku said.
"Now what do we do?!" I demanded. "Do we just go home? I am not going to let them kill my sister!"
"If we had something that could get us there faster, we might have a chance of getting there just in time," said Mongke.
"Oh, yes, of course!" I retorted, sarcastically. "If only we had something faster! I hate to point out the obvious, Mongke, but we don't have anything faster!"
"Don't yell at me, you pathetic, homeless bum!" Mongke shot back.
"Enough!" Hoku ordered. "If we can't stay together then we definitely aren't going to get anywhere. We need to put our heads together and find a way out of here."
"Sure, right after we get out of this village," I said.
And with that, we left the house with Mongke setting it ablaze and killing all of the people inside. As we left, we heard three things: the flames, the people screaming, and the song being sung by the performers not too far away.
Love amongst the nations
Warms the heart of this dragon
Fire, earth, water, and air
In them I see goodness here and there
Oh, my empress
Whom I love so
We shall love
And so shall they
Lyric after lyric, I felt angrier and angrier until finally I couldn't take anymore. Like a lightning bolt, I hopped onto the nearest roof and, with a vicious cry, I let loose another knife straight into the performer's mouth. People started screaming and crying while the three of us ran out of the village.
"What the hell was that?" asked Hoku.
"I guess those lyrics just hit a nerve," I replied.
"Spirits, you've gone mad since we last met," Hoku said back to me.
After that, we sat for a while and pondered. It frustrated me that the more we sat there, the less time we had to get to the summit.
"I have an idea," Hoku said. Mongke and I turned to look at him. "By bending the earth beneath us, I can create an earth wave that we can ride all the way to Xinzhi."
"And you're sure that all of us can ride this earth wave and not just you?" I questioned.
"It will be more difficult for me, but yes," Hoku said.
"Then what are we waiting for? Let's get moving!" Mongke said, urgently.
"Okay, hold on, everyone," Hoku instructed. With a few motions of his arms, Hoku, Mongke, and I all stood several feet above the rest of the ground and were off, riding the earth itself like waves in the ocean.
"Alright, let's go kick some separatist ass," I remarked.
- The song being sung by the performer is sung to the tune of 'Pippin's Song' from Lord of the Rings.
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